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The Children’s University as Learning Broker: Towards a child centred approach through validating the learning, not the learner. Pete Jones Director, Shropshire.

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Presentation on theme: "The Children’s University as Learning Broker: Towards a child centred approach through validating the learning, not the learner. Pete Jones Director, Shropshire."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Children’s University as Learning Broker: Towards a child centred approach through validating the learning, not the learner. Pete Jones Director, Shropshire CU Ltd Plenary Paper Truth or Dare? Dilemmas in science communication with children SiS Catalyst & EUCU.NET Joint Conference in Łódź/Poland, 23rd - 26th October

2 Outline Preamble & Context Learning Brokerages CU Trust Framework Case Studies Some Thoughts A quick note- this presentation is really a thought piece and as such will probably raise more questions than it answers.

3 Preamble & Context What are Universities for? The University Blue Sky Research Knowledge Hubs Workforce Development Repositories of knowledge Validators of knowledge Engines of economic growth Community Regeneration Applied Research Add your own here…. Social mobility Teaching institutions Training Institutions

4 Possible influencers on how a University sees itself: Is an Institution: Selecting /Recruiting Elite/Inclusive Research/ Teaching Local/National/ Global What Influences an institution: Funding Location History Staff Nation & Culture

5 What is a University for depends on who you ask? Students Senior Management Faculty Staff Outreach Staff Research Councils National Government Local Government Local Population Local schools

6 ‘The traditional model of an elite liberal higher education system based on a hierarchical classroom knowledge transfer is beginning to be replaced by a mass system which is increasingly based on a combination of knowledge and competence based approaches in a diverse variety’ of learning sites. (Jones, 2007) In the UK-Funding regime changes, credit transfer, work based learning, fast track degrees, recognition of prior learning, diverse entry and progression pathways, part time, MOOCS, etc..

7 ‘There is a move toward a more structured approach toward an emphasis on ‘learning to learn’…competency in learning is becoming a more explicit tenant of higher education, with demands for more quantitative measures of its outcomes’ (Jones 2007) We need to be mindful that children’s universities do not raise aspirations to a kind of university that may no longer exist when they come of age. An old definition of a University was of a community of learning maybe we are returning to this?

8 Learning Brokerages What is a learning brokerage? In essence it is a mediation between learners and providers seeking to negotiate and inform. Models of learning brokerage vary and there is no clear use or understanding of the term. However to broker effectively Thomas et al (2004) identify six stages a brokerage must excel at to effectively broker learning

9 Understanding the current situation Gaining entry and building trust Raising interest in learning Identifying right learning opportunities Promoting learning success Addressing organisational issues (I suggest that the stages be viewed as cyclical and most of us do this sort of thing anyway!)

10 CU Trust Framework (English) A Social Franchise Model Memberships fees charged to organisations to operate branded Local Children’s Universities Local delivery of national framework Organisations sign up to: Adopting a National quality assurance framework for out of school/ off curricula learning activities

11 Processes and procedures assessed through QiSS (a recognised UK quality assurance framework) Adopting a National award structure The use of various branded items for which the CU Trust is the sole provider Posters Passports to Learning Undertake Graduation ceremonies at HEIs

12 A Question of Balance Localism-Centralisation Internal quality assurance- external quality assurance Evaluation- Research Too much funding- Too little funding Child centred- Organisation centred Community led- Policy driven Outcome led learning- Process led learning

13 Case Studies Stoke Children’s University A CU within CU Trust Framework. Run as part of Staffordshire University’s widening participation outreach activity Adopted Learning Brokerage model at the outset. Operating in areas of High Indices of Multiple Depravation Validator of learning and hub of network

14 Challenges Synonymous with only one HEI Located within Recruitment & Marketing May benefit from but is also vulnerable to changes within wider HEI Mission May benefit from but is also vulnerable to government funding & policy direction Institutionally led with no independent mission

15 Shropshire CU A CU within CU Trust Framework. Small independent charity Adopted Learning Brokerage model at the outset. Operates across sparsely populated rural area, market towns and new town developments. Strong community and child led ethos Validator of learning and hub of network

16 Challenges Building a Reputation Building A Resource base How Independent Not located within HEI- (however, works with several local universities) Localism

17 Some Thoughts How can we place Children at the Centre of learning? We need to review and acknowledge our supply led models! We need to take the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child seriously and listen and act! We need to develop mechanisms to hear every child’s voice- not just the articulate, the local or the empowered We need to develop mechanisms to enable children to choose the learning they engage with

18 We need to move away from deficit led models in which we blame the child for not engaging with the learning- maybe it is time to look at the learning: Let us look closely at the ethos and culture Let us shift away from just compliance and outcome based learning and look at learning as a process Let us look at positive engagement at least as much as we look at attainment Let us put the child’s experience at the centre of evaluation and research Let us make sure that this influences the learning experience

19 We can place the children’s voices at the centre of what we do We can acknowledge the noise that sometimes drowns out these voices We can ensure that all our partners our listening to the voices and acting upon them We can ‘validate’ different learning at different sites, with different providers ensuring that there is an offer of a positive learning experience.

20 We can ‘validate’ the learning not only to enthuse the learners, but also to embed a culture of self-directed and lifelong learning. Positive learning experiences are essential first steps and for some may lead to more structured learning programmes- so why not assess the experience as opposed to the child (as they get assessed enough And what will it look like? Whatever you want it to look like!

21 References Jones, P. (2007) Recognizing and valuing ‘other’ learning: A new role for Accreditation of Prior Learning? In Jones, P. et al (edit) Transformation, Progression and Hope: whatever happened to lifelong learning. FACE London.


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